Oral histories are intimate conversations between and among people who have generously agreed to share these recordings with BHS’s archives and researchers. Please listen in the spirit with which these were shared. BHS abides by the General Principles & Best Practices for Oral History as agreed upon by the Oral History Association and expects that use of this material will be done with respect for these professional ethics.
Every oral history relies on the memories, views, and opinions of the narrator. Because of the personal nature of oral history, listeners may find some viewpoints or language of the recorded participants to be objectionable. In keeping with its mission of preservation and unfettered access whenever possible, BHS presents these views as recorded.
The audio recording should be considered the primary source for each interview. Where provided, transcripts created prior to 2008 or commissioned by a third party other than BHS, serve as a guide to the interview and are not considered verbatim. More recent transcripts commissioned by BHS are nearly verbatim copies of the recorded interview, and as such may contain the natural false starts, verbal stumbles, misspeaks, and repetitions that are common in conversation. The decision for their inclusion was made because BHS gives primacy to the audible voice and also because some researchers do find useful information in these verbal patterns. Unless these verbal patterns are germane to your scholarly work, when quoting from this material researchers are encouraged to correct the grammar and make other modifications maintaining the flavor of the narrator’s speech while editing the material for the standards of print.
All citations must be attributed to Brooklyn Historical Society:
[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.
These interviews are made available for research purposes only. For more information about other kinds of usage and permissions, see BHS’s rights and reproductions policy.
Oral history interview conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel
February 06, 2015
Call number: 2015.011.18
Oral History Interview with Toni Richardson
Toni Richardson was born in Manhattan around 1951. Her mother was a Black American who was born in South Carolina and migrated to Brooklyn, and her father was also a descendent of Southern Black Americans. Her family lived in the Amsterdam Houses in the Upper West Side neighborhood of Manhattan until 1957, when her father got a job with the New York City Transit Authority and they moved to the Linden Houses in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. Richardson attended PS 224, PS 190, and Thomas Jefferson High School. As a teenager, she was an active member of United Community Centers. She lived in Linden Houses until 1972, and her mother continued to live in the Houses until she passed many years later. She now lives in Ossining, New York, and has worked for IBM for much of her life.
In the interview, Toni Richardson discusses moving from the Amsterdam Houses to the Linden Houses in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1957, growing up in the neighborhood and interracial friendships, race relations as a teenager, attending Thomas Jefferson High School, her involvement with United Community Centers, the decline of services in the Linden Houses as the residents shifted from predominantly White to Black, the poor quality of education in local schools, her career as a Black woman at IBM, and systemic racism and its effect on society. The interview was conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel at Richardson's home in Ossining, New York.
The collection consists of twenty oral history interviews (with nineteen narrators) conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel with residents (past and present) of the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. The interviews were conducted between January 2014 and February 2015. The project was designed to capture the experiences of East New York residents who lived in the neighborhood during the period when families of color (African American, West Indian, and Puerto Rican) moved in and White families moved out, and the resulting decline of services and quality of life that followed. This process began as early as the 1950s and continued through the rest of the twentieth century. Sarita Daftary-Steel is a community organizer who worked for United Community Centers from 2003 to 2013, most of those years as the East New York Farms! Project Director.
CitationRichardson, Toni, Oral history interview conducted by Sarita Daftary-Steel, February 06, 2015, Sarita Daftary-Steel collection of East New York oral histories, 2015.011.18; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- International Business Machines Corporation
- Linden Houses (Housing complex)
- Richardson, Toni
- Thomas Jefferson High School (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
- United Community Centers, Inc.
- African Americans
- Public housing
- Public schools
- Race relations
- Racism in the workplace
- School integration
- Social classes
- Urban policy
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
- East New York (New York, N.Y.)
Finding AidSarita Daftary-Steel collection of East New York oral histories